Dominique Lemoine didn’t know it when she released Perfection Salad as À La Mode in September, but the album is a reminder that there is still goodness in the world among our increasingly trying times. It came out just after summer ended, but is quintessentially a summer album, and not just because the first two songs are called “Bummer Summer” and “Dreamy Day in July.”
Rather a “summer album” is usually synonymous with effortless pop, and we’ve known À La Mode can make that in spades after their magnificent debut EP two years ago. The music is unafraid to be poppy, and the lyrics are unafraid to be heartfelt. Some of these songs belong on a summer beach, while others could be songs you’re belting out at karaoke.
The latter kind of song is “Never Sleep Again,” which is buoyed by dreamy synths and later by some sweeping strings. Lemoine’s vocals are steady and sure, building up a Jenga-like tower of feelings: “Tell me all the things you feel when you’re thinking about me/Don’t apologize for anything,” she sings. If only we could all be so honest.
The summery vibes are all over the place. “Total Doom” is an ode to being way too embarrassed to talk with your crush, accompanied by a hyper-energetic melody that perfectly mimics the confusion and racing thoughts when you see that special someone. “Bummer Summer” has the sunny, almost-carefree-but-actually-kind-of-concerned tone that Alvvays has more or less perfected. “The world is a beautiful mess” is a nice thing to keep mind; remember nice things and nice people are around. And then there’s “Dreamy Day in July,” a piece of pure pop goodness. Lemoine’s delivery is measured and confident as she narrates a truly dreamy day that involves a trip to the beach.
Lemoine also shows off her francophone skills with “Ce sentiment” and “Encore une fois.” The former is like a mantra, the repetition of “Je dois garder ce sentiment,” before swelling in sound to more closely resemble a hymn.
The perfection salad featured on the album cover looks completely revolting, but Perfection Salad is sweet and something worth coming back to.
Top Tracks: “Dreamy Day in July”; “Never Sleep Again”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)